onami Gaming’s Vice President of International Gaming Operations Eduardo Aching notes that the company works a lot for the customers in advance, when they start to plan to reopen the casino after the pandemic-related closures around the globe. "That's where we can help them the most," he tells Yogonet in a video interview. "Because this way we need to reset up the machines, help them to restructure the floor or give some ideas based on our experience around the globe, what we're seeing that's working in another country. So we try to share this kind of experience with them so they don't need to reinvent everything at the same time."
Aching says Konami is also continuing to release new products for the customers, and he underlines SYNKROS casino management system's success, which allows doing upgrades or deploy new features, system lines all remotely. "So we really need very fewer people physically on the casino floor. We can do pretty much everything remotely," he says, adding that another key for new installations is preplanning. "In a casino where there are probably 800,000 machines, we can do the installation in a day with the proper planning."
Some features, including cashless technology, were already in implementation when the pandemic began. "We just speeded up the release, that was a demand from the customer. They need something that they could have immediately to deploy for their customers, to eliminate all the touches in the cards, for instance. So this really helped us a lot," Aching tells Yogonet. "SYNKROS has had cashless for several years already. Several of our customers already were using cashless applications. But the difference now is that we're getting more and more requests from the customers that don't have this, to start to use those types of applications."
Moreover, Aching says that the players are going to change the way they go to the casino, the way they're looking for entertainment in the casino. "One thing that we're trying to help the operators with is especially on the physical setup of the machines. So what we're seeing more and more, the operators are moving to the pod machine, where they have more space between the machines."
Konami's executive believes it's too early for the company to evaluate the overall impact of the pandemic. "But one thing that is common between Konami's customers and distributors, our concern number one is the safety of the customers and the safety of the employees that work on the floor. So for us, in terms of gaming content, we don't see that many changes, because once the person sits on the machine, the person wants to have that feeling they had before." He adds that the major change is going to be the physical setup in the casinos.
"For sure, you're going to have some adjustments on the gaming content as well, but most likely it's going to be more in a long term, not in the short term. And Konami was well prepared because we have some type of games, especially our multigame, where we can have eight or 10 different games in one machine. It was successful in the past, but now we're getting more requests from the customers to have those types of games. The main reason for the customers is that, if the person can sit in one machine and play and have a variation of five, six, 10 games on the same machine, this eliminates the need for this person moving around to look for other types of games."
Aching says Konami's linked progressives, like the recently launched All Aboard slot series, see a similar situation. "Our products were flexible enough that you can install them on the traditional way back to back machine, side by side, or on the new way they're looking more for now, on the pods, around the pods, four machines or six machines where we have more space between each customer."
"Our approach is to make things simpler, safer, and that everybody can go back to the regular business as soon as we can," Aching adds. "For sure, we won't have a regular business in the next few months. But change is good, it is not bad. People change the way they do business, they change the way they behave. Change is a good thing, for sure, when you change you evolve. That's a good thing for the industry as a whole, and for sure, the industry will pass this phase and will become much stronger after that."